FC Halifax Town: Denton at a loss to explain three-month goal drought

Tom Denton celebrates his opening goal.
FC Halifax Town v Dagenham & Redbridge.  FA Cup 1st Round replay. Shay Stadium.  15 November 2016.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Tom Denton celebrates his opening goal. FC Halifax Town v Dagenham & Redbridge. FA Cup 1st Round replay. Shay Stadium. 15 November 2016. Picture Bruce Rollinson

A puzzled reaction greets the question of why Tom Denton suddenly stopped scoring earlier this season.

The Halifax striker became the first player in the club’s history to score a hat-trick on his debut in the opening-day win at Nuneaton, and scored seven goals in his first six games.

But he scored sporadically since then, and stopped altogether after the 2-1 win over Dagenham and Redbridge in the FA Cup on November 15.

When asked why, Denton replied: “I don’t know. I always think if the team is playing well, I will play well because I get the service.

“I’m not going to lay the blame with my team-mates but there was a bit of a lack of service, a bit of lack of confidence maybe.

“I’m never really low on confidence - I’ll go and try to score every week and try to help the team out.

“Everyone thinks the game-plan when I play is to knock it forward all the time, but I was a bit out of nick, so if you do knock it up to me and I’m out of nick, it’s not pretty.

“Rightly, they’ve changed it round and it’s been more pleasing on the eye.”

A three-month barren spell was ended with a goal in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Worcester, Denton’s 15th of the season; nearly twice as many as the club’s next highest scorer.

Denton’s goal drought coincided with a poor run of performances and results from The Shaymen, culminating in a wretched 1-0 defeat at strugglers Stalybridge, after which the former North Ferriby forward was dropped.

Town won their next game against Chorley and haven’t looked back since, and Denton admits Billy Heath’s decision to leave him out of the team was justified.

“I wouldn’t have thought my next goal would take that long (after Dagenham) but I had a bad run in December, early January, and I was rightly dropped from the team. I think most people would agree with that,” Denton reflected.

“But we’ve turned our form around and that’s credit to the lads, they’ve pulled some good wins out of the bag.

“We’ve changed the formation, changed the personnel and it’s worked.

“Billy told me before the Chorley game he was leaving me out and I said I fully agreed with him and that I’d be ready whenever I was called upon to come on and help the team.

“Richard Peniket has come in up-front with Adam Morgan and they’ve been flying, so fair play to them.

“I’ve just got to wait for my opportunity and take it from there.”

Denton admitted he isn’t used to being on the bench under Billy Heath, after being an integral figure in their FA Trophy and promotion success.

“He benched me once last season, and I came on, reacted straight away and scored the equaliser,” he said.

“I’ve been coming on in good positions in games, when we’ve been winning. I think it was only the Stockport game when I came on and we weren’t winning, so it’s harder to make an impact.

“But I’m happy with how it went at Worcester. I came on and made a difference, which was nice. It was nice to have a good feeling again on a Saturday.”

Some Halifax supporters accused Town of being one-dimensional and playing too many high balls up to the 6ft 7in front-man earlier this season, but Denton was pragmatic about the tag.

“It’s what they see,” he said of the fans’ criticisms. “Sometimes you can’t play nice football and you have to go from your full-back to your striker. Like the first goal at Worcester where Cliff (Moyo) just dropped it in for me. Then it was a cross from Josh (Wilde) for the second.

“I think you have to be able to mix it up. At The Shay you’ve got to play football, it’s too big to just go long.

“But I think we are getting more of a mix to our play now, especially with Peniket up there. He’s providing a bit more of an outlet with his pace in behind, which helps.

“I haven’t got any pace, you can see that. Bill’s always said to me if I was half-a-yard quicker I’d be in the Football League.”

Denton is optimistic about Town’s promotion hopes, and is happy to wait for a return to the starting 11.

He added: “It doesn’t get me down (not starting). Football is a happy sport and I’m happy whether I’m playing or not - as long as the team’s winning.

“I just want to be part of a winning team like I have been for the past three years.

“We’ve got six wins out of seven now so we’re going into the business end of the season with the form we showed just before Christmas. It’s looking good.

“We’ve got a decent run of games coming up as well so if we can keep going until we play, say, Kidderminster away, we could be right in the mix for second, or even first place.”